Back to the Future: What Can Documentarians Learn From The Past?


The world of software development rightly demands an emphasis on the new and the innovative -- on doing things differently from how they’ve been done. The assumption is that newer is (almost) always better. But if we look only to the present and the future, we risk reinventing the wheel, failing to understand that we are all built on tradition, failing to learn everything that we could from the past.

This talk shows how documentarians can find inspiration in the past, build on it, and move forward. It tells some of these stories, and shows what they meant in historical context:

  • The pre-history and dawn of software documentation -- how technical writers were hired, how they worked, what they made, the challenges they faced, and how their solutions continue to inform the work we do today
  • The much longer history of teaching engineers to write documentation
  • Efforts to make technical writing into an independent profession
  • Conference: Write the Docs EU
  • Year: 2015

About the speaker

Jennifer Rondeau